The coastal province of Innistrad is home to a number of small-to-medium port towns, most situated at the mouth of a river that leads further inland. Nephalia's sloughs, sea mists, and mysteries cloak its commerce and crimes; it is populated mainly by humans, geists, and vampires, all of whom seek business, secrets, or solitude. The province's silver sand beaches, punctuated with rocky promontories and sea caves, afford easiest access to its fog-shrouded ocean.
This province is defined by water, by its access to the ocean (the easiest of any province), by its many rivers that lead deep inland, and by its deltas, marshes, and lakes. Water enables commerce here but also gives Nephalia a silvery, mystical character; the clouds and the moon seem to be both above and below in most places.
All along the Nephalian coastline, spirits come and go with the tide, but that isn't to say that when the tide is out, spirits are absent, there are just far fewer. Because the tide is connected to the moon, the pull of the moon brings the spirits into the world of the living to haunt. The Nebelgast consists mainly of the marei and the niblis, but there are a host of other ghosts and spirits that are pulled by the moon.
Nephalia's coastline consists of the Silver Beach, which stretches countless miles, interrupted by rocks, sea caves, and occasional large promontories. The sands of the beach are rich in granular silver, giving them an unearthly shimmer that dazzles visitors from other provinces.
This is no vacation spot, however. Threats are far too numerous, and the ocean too dangerous, to invite beachcombers. Only experienced Nephalian sailors know the spells and the land well enough to venture out into the sea and return with fish, trade goods, or treasure.
Along a particularly bare stretch of the Silver Beach looms a tall tower. The mortar has been mixed with sand from the Silver Beach, making it glitter in the moonlight. Within the tower, Jenrik, the astronomer, mysteriously conducts his work studying the stars, eschewing all contact with the outside world. He is making observations of the moon, charting its path across the heavens with excruciating detail.
Wards keep away werewolves, and the Stromkirk actually fear his knowledge, for anyone with such a vast understanding of the moon is holding great power indeed. Some say he is predicting the future of Innistrad, or that he is a spirit trying to get home. Others say he is an angel attempting to restore Avacyn, or that he is a demon plotting to destroy the world.
Colloquially known as "The Ditch," the network of underground passageways and crevasses called the Erdwal originated as trenches created by Nephalians in each of the major cities of Havengul, Drunau, and Selhoff for resisting zombie and werewolf attacks.
Over the years, the trenches between the three cities were connected into a network of defensible walkways for transporting goods and continuing trade even while wandering zombie hordes, demonic fiends, hungry geists, or the Krallenhorde wander about looking for victims.
Major merchants of Nephalia have paid special attention to the uses of the Erdwal and have put serious resources into making it a legitimate artery of trade, thus it has developed a bustling underground economy of its own dealing in all manner of grey- and black-market goods: human blood, assassinations, counterfeit silver, necromancy, curses, and bloodsport.
Near the larger towns, the Erdwal becomes a trench marketplace of colorful rogues, seedy merchants, filthy sailors and gaunt strangers, all doing business in dark alleyways and roughly hewn tunnels branching off the main trench. Along the clandestine nooks, the skaberen and ghoulcallers ply their trade and human blood is bought and sold by the flagon. Flesh golems are created and experiments in transmuting base metals into pure silver are carried out. Skaberen stitch together hideous monstrosities, some of which get loose and cause havoc throughout the Ditch.
As long as these dark dealings do not make it above ground level, the Church of Avacyn and its cathars do not intervene. Nephalia is a province of "understandings," and this is one of those uneasy truces that, if maintained, benefits all parties concerned.
The largest of the three cities, Havengul, stands at the mouth of the Silburlind River. The population consists of human craftworkers, shipbuilders, smiths, and traders. The Avacynian church has a strong presence here to take part in the burgeoning trade and marketplace, but many Nephalians are wary of the priesthood and watch them like hawks. As long as the church brings trade to and from Thraben, they are given a pass from the key players in Nephalia.
A contingent of the Avacyn Church long ago established a small fort here known as the Elgaud Grounds where new cathars are trained to spread the word of Avacyn and protect the people. Once trained, these graduates are sent out in small groups (of two or three) to neighboring towns to establish an outpost.
These are known as Arms of Avacyn, and they attempt to strengthen trust in the Church under the offer of protection and security. Many townsfolk are wary or outright untrusting of these "Arms" and would rather protect themselves with their own blood, sweat, traditional folklore, and superstitions.
Drunau is where the Stromkirk vampires under their progenitor, Runo, have established their ancestral manor and their center of commerce outside of Stensia. If it is blood you want, Drunau is the place to get it. Humans who possess especially delicious blood are treated like the most precious livestock, knowing a life of pampered bondage but being protected from all the other dangers of Innistrad. All this takes place within the elegant ballrooms and mahogany studies of Stromkirk manors.
The foggy, quiet port of Selhoff is where the Nebelgast, the spirit-mist, is most active. The mist almost perpetually covers the town and the nearby Morkrut Swamp. Because of the spirit activity here, it has repelled some humans, but it has attracted others, namely the skaberen and alchemists who experiment with geist energy.
The elite of Selhoff dwell within towers and spires that set this town apart from others of Nephalia, which is why the phrase "the spires of Selhoff" is often used when Nephalians talk of their southernmost town.
Selhoff lies on a small river delta where the river Ospid empties out into the Bay of Vustrow. This creates a sizeable marsh known as the Morkrut. Few set foot within the Morkrut other than ghoulcallers, and even they can become lost in its mists. The Morkrut has been a dumping place for murder victims and unclaimed bodies for which no one will pay for proper burial. Because of this, the Morkrut is filled with banshees and other malevolent geists.
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